Morocco Souk

North African souq or souk (markets) are fabulous places to experience the authentic culture of this region…

Excitement and energy are par for the course and it’s easy to get swept up in the drama between the urgent sellers and bargain-savvy clients!  There are many kinds of souqs in North Africa and they all serve their purposes with vigor and vim.  A hot tourist destination like Marrakesh in Morocco boasts a massive collection of mostly-permanent, occasionally nomadic stalls off of the main square Jemma El-Fna.  These places are flooded with amazing Moroccan handicrafts in wood, leather, gold and glass.  Though locals are proud of their artisanal heritage, the main market for these exotic items is increasingly foreign and the prices and pressure to buy can be on the high side.

Morocco Souk
Morocco Souq

To me, there is nothing quite as wonderful as the local markets that can be found in most every place there is a collection of a thousand people or more!  Traveling souqs are the norm here in Southern Tunisia and most towns will have a weekly market day which is eagerly anticipated and always well attended.  Finding a local market that is truly geared towards selling to the local community is not only a feast for the senses but an authentic, living lesson in cultural anthropology…It is here that we can learn about some of the material needs and desires of a given community.

Copper Artisan Working in Houmet Souk, Djerba
Copper Artisan Working in Houmet Souk, Djerba

As the weather turns colder, colourful Turkish carpets and thick polyester blankets imported from Syria weigh down the winter stalls.  The watermelons and peaches of summer give way to the heartier greens and pears that thrive in the cooler temperatures of November.  Needy people sit in prominent places hoping to be the recipients of any change one can spare… some stop, others don’t.  Stacks of second-hand clothing from Europe are rifled through with the eager hands of those hoping to find genuine brand-name apparel, while others prefer to peruse the lanes full of knock-off Nike, Addidas, and Oakley products shipped in from Asia. Popcorn spews forth from the jovial young man at his little cart and the smell of sugar-coated peanuts fills the air with an aromatic aura of celebration.  Colourful tables overflow with cheap, plastic toys which everyone over the age of 15 knows will provided pleasure for only a day or two at most, while smaller stands of locally made pottery and jewellery seem like a better investment.  Trained falcons, monkeys and snake charmers compete with traditional musicians for their audience and it’s best to leave them a bit of coinage for their efforts to entertain…

Bustling souk in Fes
Bustling souq in Fes

Whether passing through, or on the hunt for a special artifact, a North African souq is an unforgettable experience!

About the author

Kevin Dyck is the founder of Mosaic North Africa and has over 11 years experience living in North African countries. He is an Arabic speaker with a passion for travelers to encounter the diverse cultures and natural beauty found throughout the North Africa region. He currently lives in and works for MNA from Tunis, Tunisia.

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